When you don't know what to say

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,294 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
Speaking tests are stressful. You have to speak either to an examiner or into a microphone which records your words. And you are judged on what you say.

Often a student finds him- or her- self searching for the right word. While this is normal, and happens even to native speakers, many students' reaction is to say, "UH". Unfortunately, in a testing situation, a spoken series that sounds like, "I, uh, come from, uh, a city, uh, with a lot of, uh, industry" is uncomfortable for the listener, and will result in a lower score.

Rather than saying, "uh", just don't say anything. Take a deep breath (this calms the nerves), then begin speaking more slowly than normally. While it may feel unnatural, a slightly slower speaking pace will allow the language to flow more easily. Pause when you need to find a word, completely closing your mouth, then start again. This will avoid the dreaded, "uh".
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